ANTON ARENSKY (1861-1906) Russian Pianist and Composer
Anton Arensky is very important in the historical context of Russian romantic music. He was taught composition by Rimsky-Korsakov, and in turn taught composition to Scriabin, Rachmaninoff and Gretchaninov. Rimsky-Korsakov had this to say to say about him: "In his youth Arensky did not escape some influence from me; later the influence came from Tchaikovsky. He will quickly be forgotten."
Fortunately Arensky's illustrious teacher was only half right. While most of his music is indeed all but forgotten, another victim of rapidly changing times, his much admired music for two pianos continues to enjoy the success it deserves. He wrote five
Suites for Two Pianos
, the first of which is the most charming in which one can imagine quite vividly the brilliant chandeliers of the Czarist palaces of old Russia, as well as a number of other pieces for two pianos.
Perhaps his best work, the D minor piano trio, gets a fair number of hearings at chamber music concerts, and his Piano Concerto Opus 2 is occasionally performed and deserves much better.
Below is a small handful of solo performances by Anton Arensky who was also a very fine pianist. These recordings were all made in 1894 onto an Edison phonograph cylinder. The sound is inadequate and the recordings are very noisy. But they do give an idea of Arensky's playing and are of historical significance. At least one pianist of some note as a pedagogue claims to have learned much about Arensky's pedaling technique from listening to these recordings, but . . . Also, it is mildly interesting to hear his voice.
More musically satisfying, perhaps, is the recording, made shortly after the work's composition, of fragments of Arensky's Piano Trio in D minor Op 32. It is performed by the composer, violinist Jan Hřímalý (1844-1915) and cellist Anatoly Brandukov (1856-1930).
On a separate page, a number of works by
Arensky the Composer
can be heard. These include a number of marvelous performances of the aforementioned piano concerto and piano trio along with other chamber works and solo piano pieces.
"Strophe Alceen" Op 28 n°5
24 Morceaux Charactéristiques Op 36 recorded in 1894
5 "Consolation" in D major
15 "Le Rouisseau dans le Forêt"
"An der Quelle" Op 46 n°1
Piano Trio in D minor Op 32
i Allegro moderato
ii Scherzo - Allegro molto
iii Elegie - Adagio
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